Always endearing, but sometimes haunting, Rachel’s imagery is often inspired by folk tales and myths, combined with the everyday world around us.
We asked the artist…
I’m a visual storyteller, sharing moments I’ve observed and reimagined with a little extra charm and magic. I also enjoy interpreting stories I read or hear from others, such as in published books or in conversation with a friend.
After a break from creating, I’m slowly finding my feet again by exploring my style and finding my voice, through the medium of linocut.
What inspires you?
I love to read folktales, ghost stories and original versions of fairy tales. I also like hearing tales from other cultures and countries, along with historical legends and myths. All these things spark my curiosity. Getting out into nature is also inspiring, with flora and fauna featuring in my work often.
What materials do you generally use?
I work solely with a relief printmaking method called linocut. It involves using sharp gouges and chisels to cut an image into a piece of linoleum. The surface is then inked up, and the image is transferred onto paper by using a printing press. This is a very simple explanation for what can sometimes be a very long process – but one that I find very therapeutic and almost meditative. Printmaking enables me to create hand-made multiples of the same illustration, working in limited print runs from as little as ten prints, and sometimes up to sixty.
I prefer to work using the ‘reduction’ method, meaning I use just one linoleum block to work in several layers of colour. I print the first layer, and then return to the block to cut away some more, printing the next colour when ready. This process is repeated over several layers until the image is complete – and usually there is very little of the original block left by the end!
Using the reduction method means I can never truly know exactly how the image will turn out until the very end – and I can’t go back and correct my mistakes! I find myself holding my breath as the first proof comes off the press. It can be an intense method, but it brings with it lots of little surprises that makes it all worth it.
I’m currently trying out Japanese papers in my work, which are very thin and delicate but also super strong and smooth. I’ve also recently switched to vegetable-based oil inks which don’t require toxic chemicals to clean up.
What has been your favourite project to work on so far?
My favourite piece is usually what I just pulled off the press! With each new illustration, I always learn something new to bring into the next. I almost feel like I ‘level up’ with each one, and I’m getting faster each time I complete a project.
‘Nailing Owls to the Walls of our Farms’ is the most recent of my work, and the most complex to date. It is a reduction print which consists of six layers – it currently takes me around a week to complete a layer. I could be quicker but I have to wait for the ink on the previous layer to dry!
As a bit of a research project, I took a small Interrailing trip around Europe back in 2017. Passing through Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Italy, the purpose of the trip was to visit other printmakers and print studios. The trip was overwhelmingly inspiring, and I loved meeting other artists and discovering what their passions were, and how they practiced their art. I’m writing up a blog post about this trip, which I hope to share soon!
What are you currently working on?
I’ve been a little absent from social media for the last two years, but I’ve been working hard on creating work for myself without the pressure of sharing it. It’s been a great couple of years of self-reflection and experimentation, without a fear of failure or needing to perfect something. I’ve gained more confidence with the medium of linocut, and I can see how my skill has improved with each piece.
So I’m currently gathering together my ‘experiments’, looking back retrospectively and reflecting on where I want to take my art and narrow my focus on what inspires me to create – something I haven’t done since University! I can see some themes emerging, so I’m excited to start narrowing down my subject areas.
Where can we find more of your work?
I’m currently re-building my website, which I hope to launch soon. For now, if you could follow me on social media, I’d really appreciate it!
If you are interested in a particular piece, it could be for sale, please get in touch!